Starbucks says boycott threats over refugee hiring hasn't hurt brand

The logo of a Starbucks coffee shop is seen in New York June 25, 2013. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Starbucks Corp on Friday said its business has not been hurt by a social media boycott campaign started in response to the chain’s promise to hire 10,000 refugees globally over the next five years.

Starbucks made its Jan. 29 refugee hiring announcement on the heels of President Donald Trump’s first executive order that temporarily banned travel from seven mostly Muslim nations. The move angered some Trump supporters, who called on other customers to stop frequenting the coffee chain.

Matt Ryan, Starbucks’ chief strategy officer, said results from a YouGov BrandIndex survey suggesting that the boycott had dented the brand, “do not reflect the customer satisfaction and perception trends we are seeing so far in 2017.”

Kantar Millward Brown, a market research firm that has provided continuous Brand Equity measurement for Starbucks since 2013, said the chain has not suffered a consumer backlash related to its refugee hiring promise.

“In February 2017 — after the announcement — we did not observe any substantive impact on Customer Consideration, Future Visitation Intent or Brand Perceptions or any other key performance metrics for the Starbucks brand,” Brian James, president of Kantar Millward Brown’s brand and communications practice, said in a letter released by Starbucks.

The coffee company declined to release related data, citing confidentiality.

James said his firm’s measurements do not substantiate findings from YouGov BrandIndex, whose data showed declines in consumer perception and purchase consideration after the refugee hiring statement.

A YouGov spokesman told Reuters it stood by the accuracy of its data.

Reporting by Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles; Editing by Sam Holmes